What a year – 2016 in review!

If there is one thing we as gamers cannot complain about, it’s game releases in 2016. Variety and great games of every genre came out and brought happiness to us all. Especially, the first person shooter genre saw great new releases almost every month – sometimes even more than one. And it was the year of Virtual Reality, with the releases of HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch and PlayStation VR. Overall, it was a very successful year that left nothing to be desired. We take a look back at what this year has brought us.

Virtual Reality comes to consumers
For so many years, developers have tried to find a way to deliver realistic VR worlds into the hands of consumers but they failed. Either the quality was lacking or the hardware was simply too expensive for mass appeal. This all changed in 2013 when a Kickstarter-campaign for a new consumer VR headset was introduced and successfully funded – massively. Palmer Luckey and Oculus became a synonym for consumer VR done right and 2016 saw the release of consumer VR in a quality never seen before. Not only did Oculus Rift (and now with hand controllers Oculus Touch), but also the HTC VIVE headset (in cooperation with Valve) become available. Even console-owners, who always heard that consoles were not powerful enough for VR could start exploring virtual worlds with the release of Sony’s PlayStation VR headset.

Is Virtual Reality ripe for the mass market? It seems so. The fascination has not died down and the support from developers of all sizes has made the available platforms strong. Hundreds of games and experiences like VR movies and simulations are already available for the different headsets. The PC VR headsets are still very power-hungry, yet will soon become more accessible. If all the years from 2013 on were ramping up the success of VR, then 2016 was the year that made VR great. The main problem VR enthusiasts still have is the fact that VR cannot be explained, it needs to be experienced. Another important aspect of this year VR’s rise: All major players did tours to show off and demo their headsets and content. We can only guess how large VR and the experiences will become in 2017.

Classic series re-envisioned
As mentioned earlier, shooter fans had quite the year in terms of content: Doom was re-imagined and was as good as we hoped it would be. Franchises like Call of Duty remembered their roots in decent storytelling. Not a month went by without great new shooters. Tactical team-based shooters like Rainbow Six: Siege, shooters inspired by great universes like Space Hulk: Deathwing (Warhammer 40k) and competitive shooters like Overwatch – it’s hard to decide, which one was the best because tastes differ, but with shooters like Star Wars Battlefront, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2, Overwatch, Doom, Space Hulk: Deathwing, Rainbow Six: Siege and so many others, that was to be expected. The only obvious fact for 2016 in this genre is that there was something for every type of gamer.

World of Warcraft’s yearly expansion called Legion was celebrated even by those critics who claim that WoW is dead – every year. Independent projects like Project Genom made it into Steam Early Access and showed that the genre is still very much alive. There was not as much diversity and variety in this genre as in the shooter genre but 2016 was still a very strong year for fans of MMORPGs and MMOFPS games. The Division by Ubisoft is still going strong, getting updated and expanded almost monthly and is turning into quite the force to be reckoned with, same goes for Destiny.

Adventures, MOBAs and action RPGs
We know that Hearthstone is important, as is Heroes of the Storm. But a genre that was slowly dying rose again in 2016: Adventures. With Silence: The Whispered World 2 and countless other award-winning titles, this beloved genre is alive and kicking. Same goes for the so-called hardcore strategy action genre. When the last part of the Commandos series failed to do the numbers everyone thought that the days for this type of games were over. But now, with the launch of the critically acclaimed Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, we see a great renaissance coming. It seems that there are more fans of this type of games than everyone thought.

Overall 2016 was great, the releases were countless and there were awesome games every month. We can only hope that 2017 will be as strong.

With so many games mentioned, we just have to ask: What was your favourite game of 2016? And did you check out Virtual Reality already? If so, on what platform?